Kinder Morgan’s planned expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline through Langley has already become an issue in one provincial election, and is now an issue in this one.
“I will be at the all candidates meetings, for sure,” said Susan Davidson, a Langley resident and member of the PIPE UP Network, which opposes the plan.
The original pipeline was build in 1953. The expansion plan calls for capacity to be almost tripled, with new pipeline being laid through North Langley en route to a refinery in Burnaby.
Brandon Gabriel is an artist and member of the Kwantlen First Nation. He’s been one of the voices leading opposition to the pipeline expansion.
For Gabriel, the environmental impacts are a major issue, but so are the rights of First Nation’s people.
“There was no actual consent given for the first pipeline,” Gabriel said. In the ’50s, Indian agents acted on behalf of the band, without consultation.
There’s no direct benefit to the local community in the form of jobs or resource sharing, Gabriel said.
“This whole idea of consent is at the core of our concern,” he said.
The provincial election will likely become one area in which people raise the issue, Gabriel said.
Davidson has an answer for people who say we need oil.
“Nobody is advocating turning the tap off on the existing pipelines,” she said. The domestic supply of oil is already enough, she said. “This expansion is all about exporting crude.”
Candidates are very likely to hear from pipeline opponents.
“We’re going to make sure they know what we think is important, and this is at the top of our list,” said Gabriel.
In early January, the Trans Mountain expansion received its environmental certificate from the Environment Assessment Office of B.C. It had also been given the federal stamp of approval, unlike the also-controversial Northern Gateway pipeline.
If it meets all its approvals and conditions and is built, the pipeline will split into two routes in Langley, just west of Fort Langley.
The existing pipeline will still go through Walnut Grove. The new route will head north and then veer west again.
Opponents of the project have been picketing and protesting since 2012 in the Langleys, including in two major marches through Fort Langley. The latest took place this past winter.
Kinder Morgan has argued that the project will bring financial benefits to B.C. and Alberta, and Canada more broadly.
As part of its negotiated commitment with the province of British Columbia, it agreed to contribute a minimum of $25 million, up to $50 million depending on oil shipment volumes over the lifetime of the project. The money is to go towards a B.C. Clean Communities Program for local environmental projects.